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US to advise Baghdad on securing oil infrastructure Cooperation comes with Iraq looking to ramp up crude sales

BAGHDAD, Feb 5, (Agencies): The United States is to provide Iraq with technical support to help it secure its oil export infrastructure, which accounts for the lion’s share of government revenues,officials said Wednesday. The cooperation comes with Baghdad looking to dramatically ramp up crude sales to fund much-needed reconstruction of its conflict-battered economy, but facing repeated attacks on its pipeline infrastructure, including one on Wednesday. “Iraq and the United States are embarking on a significant new area of cooperation by having experts from the US Departments of Energy and State work with Iraq to develop approaches to protect Iraq’s energy infrastructure from terrorist attack or natural disaster,” a joint energy committee said after Baghdad talks.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq’s top minister responsible for energy affairs, said the cooperation would not involve any foreign troops and would instead be focused on studies being carried out and new equipment being acquired. “Because of the security situation in the region... Iraq has been subjected to several terrorist attacks against oil installations, especially the crude oil pipelines in the north of Iraq,” Shahristani said at a news conference. “We need modern equipment and methods to protect these pipelines, as well as our southern installations, refineries and export ports. ... (The agreement) is to help develop the methods and use the modern equipment for protecting these sites.”

He added: “The protection (duties) will be in the hands of Iraq, and Iraq will not be assisted by any foreign soldier in carrying out this plan.” Both exports and revenues declined in 2013 compared to the previous year despite efforts to increase sales, a drop attributed by the oil ministry to periods of bad weather and poor maintenance, but also to sabotage against the country’s main northern pipeline. On Wednesday, militants bombed a pipeline sending refined products from the town of Baiji to Baghdad, officials said. The blast did not cause any casualties, but forced pumping to be stopped.

Overall production averaged 3.07 million barrels per day in December, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), while exports averaged 2.34 million bpd, oil ministry figures showed.
Officials aim to increase capacity from 3.2 million bpd now to nine million bpd by 2017, a target both the IEA and the International Monetary Fund have warned is overly optimistic.
The Iraq-US Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on Energy reached an agreement on cooperation in the areas of oil production and export, natural gas, electricity resiliency and reliability, clean energy, and critical energy infrastructure protection.
During the meeting, both sides reiterated the significance of Iraq’s future energy sector development and its contribution to greater economic prosperity, as well as the valuable role that Iraq plays in providing a steady flow of petroleum resources to global markets.
Both sides lauded Iraq’s offshore installation of the central metering manifold platform for the new single point moorings (SPMs) and recognized Iraq’s bold plans to increase further its oil production and exports, according to a joint press release posted on the website of the US embassy here. The delegations discussed Iraq’s Integrated National Energy Strategy; opportunities to strengthen production and export infrastructure in order to meet Iraq’s mid- and long-range export goals; Iraqi and US lessons learned in the field of natural gas capture and distribution; and best practices from the United States and the region.

The two governments discussed the importance of supporting Iraq’s efforts to harness its vast natural gas resources. They reviewed the status of Iraq’s work to capture natural gas that is currently flared and redirect it to meet Iraq’s growing energy demand.
“We have agreed to form a new working group under the JCC focused on combining mobile power generation technologies with reduction in gas flaring. We hope to engage both government and industrial actors in bringing forward rapid, deployable solutions,” said the statement.
The delegations also discussed continued efforts to build Iraqi Government capacity to oversee and regulate the natural gas sector, including through programs under the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program.
The US delegation discussed the current development of shale gas resources and its impact on international markets.
For its part, the United States expressed its continued support of Iraq’s energy sector, committing to workshops and technical assistance that built upon the success of earlier programs.
One such earlier program provided 230 key engineers and managers in Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity on best practices in energy security, operations, maintenance, and safety.


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